MMA Top 10 Women: Ronda Rousey Is Best in World

Esther Lin

Ronda Rousey is the best female mixed martial artist in the world.

Does that sound crazy? It might, less than a year after her first professional fight. But the reality is that in less than a year Rousey has fought five times, won them all, finished everyone in the first round and, on Saturday, defeated a high-level opponent in Miesha Tate and done it in convincing, impressive fashion.

The other reality is that the other fighters who have a case to be No. 1 woman in the world -- Cris Cyborg, Zoila Gurgel and Megumi Fujii -- all have pretty significant strikes against them. We'll get to that after we get past Rousey.

And so Rousey is at the top of our list of the best women in the world, which is below.

Top 10 pound-for-pound women in MMA

(Editor's note: The ranking from the last time we ranked women are in parentheses)

1. Ronda Rousey (5): Tate is a very strong, very experienced fighter who entered Saturday night with a 12-2 record, having never been submitted in her career. And Tate is also a smart fighter who knows how to execute a game plan. But Rousey is so good at what she does -- using a judo throw to get on top in side control and then locking in an arm bar -- that it didn't matter. You could make the case that Rousey is a one-trick pony who doesn't do anything other than rely on her judo and lock in arm bars, but that's a little like saying that Mike Tyson circa 1988 was a one-trick pony who didn't do anything other than knock his opponents out.

2. Cris Cyborg (1): What do we do with Cyborg now that she's suspended for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs? Some would say she doesn't deserve to be ranked at all, but I don't want to ignore the fact that she spent the last few years as the greatest force women's MMA has ever seen. If you think Cyborg was just a steroid-fueled monster who won't win if drug tests force her to get clean, well, that's a valid opinion. But I believe Cyborg is a skilled and talented fighter who will be prepared for big things when her suspension ends.

3. Zoila Gurgel (2): Gurgel is a phenomenal fighter. She's 11-1, her only loss is to Tate in a fight in which she was fighting above her natural weight class, and she's the only person to beat Megumi Fujii. Unfortunately, she's fought only once since beating Fujii and is currently nursing a torn ACL. There's no word on when she'll return.

4. Sarah Kaufman (7): Kaufman put together an outstanding striking display in her victory over Alexis Davis, and she's going to be a tough opponent for Rousey. Kaufman is 15-1 in her career, she has a win over Tate on her record and her MMA experience and striking accumen go far beyond Rousey's. If she can execute an evasive game plan that keeps the fight standing and avoids Rousey's clinch, Kaufman has a chance of winning that fight.

5. Megumi Fujii (4): Fujii is now a whopping 25-1 after her first-round submission win over Karla Benitez on New Year's Eve. Bellator should book her for a rematch with Gurgel.

6. Miesha Tate (3): An elbow injury from Rousey's arm bar may keep her on the shelf for a while, but Tate will be back. She's an impressive fighter who just ran into a force of nature in Rousey.

7. Marloes Coenen (6): Coenen lost her spot in Strikeforce because she was a casualty of the battle between Zuffa and Golden Glory, but I'm hopeful she'll return. She could be a very good matchup for Rousey in the future, but up next she has a fight with Romy Ruyssen on April 28.

8. Jessica Aguilar (8): After beating Patricia Vidonic last month, Aguilar is now on a four-fight winning streak since her split decision loss to Gurgel in 2010.

9. Tara LaRosa (9): Once considered the best female fighter in the world, LaRosa has been inactive for a year and has been largely forgotten while fighting in smaller promotions. I'd love to see her step into the cage in Strikeforce or Bellator.

10. Alexis Davis (10): Davis put together a very game effort against Kaufman, fighting through an ugly cut and putting Kaufman in trouble on the ground at the end of the third round. She'd be a logical future opponent for Tate.

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